The Problem of Out-of-Field Teaching
Few issues in our elementary and secondary schools are subject to more debate and discussion than the quality of teachers. Over the past decade, dozens of studies, commissions, and national reports have bemoaned our failure to ensure that all our nation's classrooms are staffed with qualified teachers. In turn, reformers in many states have pushed tougher licensing standards for teachers and more rigorous academic requirements for teaching candidates. Moreover, a whole host of initiatives and programs have sprung up for the purpose of recruiting new candidates into teaching. Among these are programs designed to entice mid-career professionals from other fields to become teachers; alternative certification programs, whereby college graduates can postpone formal education training, obtain an emergency teaching certificate, and begin teaching immediately; and Peace Corps-like programs, such as Teach For America, that are designed to lure the "best and brightest" into understaffed schools.